It's all too easy to get caught up in the buzz of the latest high-tech security gadgets and gizmos. But it's often the cheap, simple strategies that have the greatest impact on a property's safety.
First, make sure the locks for individual units are properly installed. "The quality of the installation is a big problem," says Norman Bates, president of Liability Consultants, a security management consulting firm based in Sudbury, Mass. "This is low-tech stuff, but we see it [installation errors] over and over again." And faulty equipment poses a major danger for residents, as the majority of crimes at multifamily properties occur in the actual unit, according to a recent study by Liability Consultants.
Proper signage can also play a big role in deterring crime. Register properties with the police department to get "no trespassing" signs. The signs allow guests and strangers to be arrested right at the property, says Steve Heimler, president and CEO of Stratus Real Estate, which displays these signs at properties in rough neighborhoods. At higher-end properties, Stratus posts courtesy signs in parking lots, elevators, and common areas reminding residents to report any suspicious activities.
Adequate lighting is another cheap and easy way to keep strangers from lurking on your properties, especially in emerging, up-and-coming neighborhoods. Dubin Residential, a for-sale builder in Chicago, uses lighting to help ease the minds of safety-conscious buyers. Dubin's townhome communities offer photosensitive, low-rise pod lights throughout the grassy areas to provide low, diffused light aimed at the ground.
"People like the fact that the area is well-lit, safe, and secure," says Mike Kelahan, Dubin's director of sales and marketing. "And at the same time they are not giving up the ability to sleep at night because there is a supersonic orbit outside their window."
And here's the ultimate easy safety solution: If your multifamily building is located near a school, turn on the sprinklers to water the lawn right when school lets out. "That is a very low-cost method of keeping troubled people off your property," says Heimler.
For more information, call Vista Professional Outdoor Lighting at 800-766-8478 or visit www.VistaPro.com.